If two people in this town were to be involved in an odd freak grocery store accident… well. Of course it would be Caden-8yr and me.
We were minding our own business, as innocent victims often are. Standing by, watching without judgment as Ethan-12yr ordered a slab of brisket with two sides of mashed potatoes and deciding to focus on the positive that he said, “thank you” without being prompted to the man who put together his order. Caden-8yr was behind me, and as there were two men pushing a GIANT and heavily laden wheeled cart of stuff our way, I reached behind and instinctively swished him behind me.
Because he’s Caden-8yr. I didn’t want him to get run over. He was in the path. OF COURSE that’s a concern.
One of the men had his back to me, and was pulling the big dolly thing, one of them was facing me, and for some reason, they SLAMMED into my grocery cart and then the handle of my cart SLAMMED squarely into my rib cage, and my left elbow SLAMMED into Caden-8yr’s stomach. The force pushed me back a few stumbling steps, and something smashed into an ankle, and it’s still very strange that I did not end up on my butt.
The wind was knocked out of me.
I did what any good southern woman with social anxiety issues would do, and plastered on a smile, checked on Caden-8yr who was pretty much fine, and fiercely waved off those two men who were quite horrified at what they’d done. I reminded myself that not being able to breathe is probably just an illusion in those situations and I’d be fine. I was immediately glad that had not happened to my mother, who also shops there.
We stopped at the sushi counter. The sushi guy was frantically offering to make me something special, and he never does that and I don’t know if he was bored or if it was his reaction to seeing what had happened. Or if he’d seen that at all. No idea. I couldn’t talk or think anyway. I grabbed something and moved on. At some point, the boys realized that for whatever reason that made no sense to them, I would smile faintly and nod when they asked if they could have something.
I never do that.
I am not fun in the grocery store.
Today was different.
The two men who started the Whole Big Stupid Mess kept accidentally – or not – bumping into me, figuratively, and asking me if I was all right. Apparently i told them I was okay, but I really am not sure at what point air returned, much less the ability to say anything.
I did make small talk with the cashier. And the sacker.
And then we got in the car and as soon as I was alone with my three boys, I LOST IT.
Tears and Snot.
Six shocked eyes, three wide open mouths. No clue what had happened to their mother. Ethan-12yr manned up and held my hand and asked what was wrong.
“THAT. REALLY. HURT.” It was much worse than any punch to the stomach, ever. It was BAD. And only now was I acknowledging it.
There was a long pause of confused silence. Then three little voices wondering why if it hurt that bad was I crying NOW.
“It’s like when you get hurt in baseball. Do you act like it hurts when you’re on the field?”
They all agreed that you don’t. They thought about it. But they didn’t really get why that mattered since…. um…. I wasn’t playing baseball.
“If I had cried in there, with all those strangers, we never would have gotten the grocery shopping done. They would have wanted me to go to the manager’s office and fill out paperwork and agree never to sue them and everyone would have seen me cry and made a big fuss and I just wanted to get the groceries and go home and not have anyone pay any attention at all because i don’t want to sue but they probably wouldn’t believe me.”
This was finally accepted. For the time being.
We drove home. I cried the whole way. I couldn’t breathe right. i still can’t, but it’s really not a big deal. Nothing is broken – just bruised some ribs.
The real problem came after dinner and Caden-8yr decided I needed to be confronted. As only he can.
“Why did you lie to those men THREE different times when they asked if you were okay? You have NEVER lied in front of me before, and you did tonight THREE times.”
HELP ME, JESUS.
It was a LONG conversation. He was not satisfied that I told him and his brothers the truth the second we were alone. That did not “un-do” the lies. The THREE lies.
He was not satisfied that my reason was to get out of there.
I told him I understood how – particularly at this point in his life – he’s very concerned with honesty and integrity and really knowing someone well and how offended he was at realizing I wasn’t being honest with those men. I genuinely respect and like his approach to addressing concerns regarding character and told him as much. I pointed out that this is the single area I find MOST difficult to be honest about. If there is an injury or an illness, I am ALWAYS going to say “i’m fine” whether I am or not for a very long time, even if it isn’t strictly honest, just because I WANT that to be the truth and I am not yet willing to deal with reality. And that – THANK YOU SO MUCH, CHILD – is not honest. And I need to address it. Because that makes me a Grocery Store Liar. And now I know.
Meanwhile, Seth-6yr had started referring to me as “Kind Mother.” This was the tipoff that I was agreeing to EVERY single thing they asked for, without any filtering whatsoever.
“Thank you for letting me watch tv while I eat dinner AND eat ice cream, Kind Mother.”
“Kind Mother? Can I have more, please?”
“How are you feeling, Kind Mother?”
So. After that, I somehow snapped out of it and caught on. I kiboshed the Kind Mother act that had been slammed into me by force with a shopping cart, and Seth-6yr was mildly disappointed after that when I became reacquainted with the phrase, “uh? NO.” But he did sincerely feel bad for me and offer me $1.39 for my pain and suffering. Not that he used that phrase. But that’s what he meant. And he was serious about my accepting it. Ethan-12yr stayed away from me for awhile.
That’s about how they are. Ethan-12yr will be supportive in a crisis, and then disappear because DANG, UNCOMFORTABLE. Caden-8yr will analyze, interrogate, and talk you to death in a crisis. And Seth-6yr will exploit your weaknesses, charm you, and somehow still be full of genuine sympathy and unique gestures of concern. For much of this, I was bracing myself on the kitchen island, leaning over in such a way that minimized the pain.
Then Caden-8yr geared up for round two, narrowed his eyes at me and asked, “how often do you read your Bible, anyway?”
I really wish Seth-6yr would wander through the kitchen right about now and teach his brother the phrase, “Kind Mother.” But… NO.
I invited him to sit with me on the couch while I defended my spirituality and Bible reading habits. I told him what I had been reading today and was able to give multiple scripture references that satisfied his sudden suspicions that perhaps I was just a giant lying heathen crap mother. Apart from the family devotional stuff with each of them, YES, Caden-8yr, I do read and study and pray and now more than ever, but come ON but you know that.
No, I didn’t say that.
It went on. And then on. And now they’re asleep and I hope they stay that way because we live outside of the city limits and everyone is out here shooting off fireworks and it’s loud. It’ll happen every night until mid-July. Drives me nuts. And the dogs, too.
The HONEST truth is I am really not fine. My ribs are probably quite bruised but not broken. I can’t breathe too deeply or laugh without it hurting. The kids need to hug me differently and the cat needs to stay away from his usual snuggling all over the Kind Mother thing that he does. I have no interest in holding a grudge against my grocery store, legal or otherwise. Accidents happen.
There. That wasn’t so bad.
Thank you, Caden-8yr.